Microsoft/ISDA NextGen PC Design Competition
AlphaGrip Handheld Computer Entry

Number: 0866

Title: The AlphaGrip HC – An Ergonomic, High Speed, Handheld Computer

Description: The AlphaGrip Handheld Computer (AlphaGrip HC), based on a patented and proven input technology (see has full-size rocker keys on the back which, along with the thumb keys on the front, enable high speed, 10-finger touch-typing and gaming at rates of 250-350 key presses or 50-70 words per minute. In addition, the thumb-controlled trackball provides the same functionality as a desktop mouse. With an AlphaGrip HC a user could quickly and comfortably create text messages, emails, and documents, write code, take notes, enter data, and do graphic design, or play sophisticated PC games, from any location in any position; while standing, walking, sitting, riding, or reclining. You can learn to touch type on an AlphaGrip in about a third the time it takes to learn on a keyboard, and you will increase your productivity, relative to using a thumb keyboard, by more than 200 percent.

Passion: Today, you can’t be as productive on a handheld computer which relies on handwriting recognition, a thumb keyboard, or an onscreen keyboard as its human/computer interface. In order to have maximum productivity on today’s handheld computers you must connect them to a full-size keyboard supported by a stationary, elevated, flat surface, thus converting your handheld into a desktop. By increasing handheld texting speed by more than 200%, the AlphaGrip HC will enhance the computing experience for everyone who wants or needs to have total desktop computing capabilities wherever they happen to be: standing at a press conference or in your kitchen, sitting in an auditorium, in a classroom, or on a park bench, walking around the neighborhood, campus, or tradeshow, riding in a train, plane, bus or car, leaning back in a recliner or sitting on the floor in the family room, laying on a blanket at the beach, or on a sofa, chair, or bed at home, in a hotel, or at a hospital.

Users’ culture and lifestyle: The audience for highly productive, handheld computing is so large and diverse that it encompasses a multitude of habits and practices among users of all ages, from students to professors, patients to doctors, gamers to software engineers. The AlphaGrip audience wants to enjoy total computing capabilities anywhere, without having to get to a stationary, flat, elevated surface to get “real” work done with a full-size keyboard. Today, users of handheld computers or smartphones can only create short messages or retrieve web pages or documents for viewing, but the creation of detailed emails, documents, or coding in a productive manner, requires a fullsize keyboard and mouse. The AlphaGrip HC would provide all the functionality of a ultramobile computer, but with full-size keyboard functionality for truly productive, anywhere computing.

Market Viability: The AlphaGrip HC's design, which looks and feels like a game controller, appeals to the video gaming generation, ages 10 to 45, who associate a game controller with fun and excitement. It also appeals to heavy computer users such as software engineers, graphic designers, students, reporters, and knowledge workers in general, who will appreciate the benefits of comfortable, anywhere, desk-free computing, and to computer users in vertical markets including policemen, soldiers, package delivery people, insurance claims adjusters, healthcare professionals, surveyors, investigators, and others. It also appeals to teens and young adults who would carry it in their backpack and use it to text 2-3 times faster than on their cell phones, take notes in class, and surf the net as quickly and efficiently as if they were using a desktop computer. A next-generation AlphaGrip HC could fold into a pocket and unfold for use, thus attracting an even larger audience.

Size: The current embodiment of the AlphaGrip HC is 6 5/8” tall (9 ¾” when open) by 6 3/8” wide by 3 ½” deep. The screen is 3” wide by 1 ¾” tall. In a possible alternative embodiment the screen would be 4” by 4”. In another possible alternative embodiment the AlphaGrip folds into a pocketable size; 3 ½” tall by 3 ½” wide by 2 ½” deep and opens to 7” tall by 6 inches wide by 2 1/2” deep.

Overview of Design: The AlphaGrip HC’s innovative design enhances productivity on a handheld computer by using the back surface of the device to house multi-directional keys which enable typing 2-3 times faster than a thumb keyboard. The design also unchains you from your desk by enabling truly productive mobile computing. With its full-size keys and vertical hand orientation, and the fact that it enables a user to rest his hands in his lap and change body positions to reduce the stress on any particular joint, the AlphaGrip HC is more ergonomic than a thumb keyboard or even a standard, full-size keyboard. Its thumb-controlled trackball is also more ergonomic than a mouse, which requires the user to hold his or her arm up on a desk and out to the side. With regard to gaming, by enabling 10-finger control, an AlphaGrip HC would allow a gamer to play desktop PC-quality games that are far more sophisticated than current games for handhelds.

User and Context: There are many different types of potential users of an AlphaGrip HC. Students could use their AlphaGrip HC to take notes in class and do their homework anywhere - from their dorm room to the library, or while sitting on a bench or on the grass out on the quad. Gamers could play sophisticated PC video games anywhere instead of having to be chained to a desk to play. Knowledge workers would be freed from their desks and could be productive anywhere they want to be. Journalists could write their articles without having to get to a desk or find a stationary, flat surface to support a laptop. Workers in various vertical markets would also benefit including package delivery people, surveyors, realtors, policemen, repairmen, soldiers, healthcare providers, claims adjusters, salespeople, and other mobile knowledge workers.

Scenarios of Use: The AlphaGrip scenario is a world of highly productive mobile computing; 200-500% more productive than today. Just as the cell phone freed us from stationary phones on desks, tables, counters, walls and in booths, the AlphaGrip HC will free us from stationary, deskbound or laptop computing. The design of the AlphaGrip HC benefits the targeted users by enabling the world’s most productive mobile computing. Ever since man first put chisel to stone, he has had to get to a stationary, flat surface to support his writing tools - from chisel to pen to typewriter to keyboard. Thus he had to get to a fixed location or find a flat, stationary surface to record his thoughts, write correspondence, create documents, and record other relevant data at the most productive rate of speed. The AlphaGrip HC delivers on productive mobile computing by enabling ten-finger touch typing and gaming on a handheld device.

User Interface: The design of the AlphaGrip HC makes the PC easier to use by eliminating the necessity to get to a desk or other stationary, elevated, flat surface to compute with maximum productivity. Wherever you happen to be, that’s where you can open your AlphaGrip HC and do anything you can do on a desktop computer as quickly, as efficiently, and more comfortably.

Aesthetics: An AlphaGrip HC represents mobility and freedom, a concept that resonates in everyone. The AlphaGrip AG-5, a handheld game controller with all the functionality of a full-size keyboard and mouse, is currently on the market and has received good reviews by well-regarded technology publications (www. While the AG-5 enables comfortable, lean-back computing, it does not free you from a desk (though it does let you lean back away from your desk), nor does it let you type faster than you can if you touch type on a keyboard. Nevertheless, many AlphaGrip users are passionate about their Grips (www. By contrast, the AlphaGrip HC will attract even more passionate users by allowing them to comfortably compute from any location in any position and over 200% more productively than with a thumb keyboard.

Technical Aspects: The AlphaGrip HC’s key enabling technology is its handheld, ergonomic, ten-finger typing configuration. The back surface of the AlphaGrip HC houses eight multi-directional keys that enable the user to generate 20 characters, each with a single finger pressing a single key, and an additional 60 characters using three shift buttons. A user can hold it comfortably and firmly while leaving his fingers free for typing. It is much easier to learn to touch type on an AlphaGrip HC relative to a keyboard because you don’t have to learn to move your fingers up, down and across five rows of keys. When you grasp it your fingers fall naturally on all the keys you need for high speed, touch typing at a rate that is 2-3 times faster than you can achieve on a thumb keyboard. And of course the AlphaGrip HC, with its vertical hand orientation, minimum finger movement, and ability to spread the typing duties over 10 fingers instead of just 2 thumbs, is much more ergonomic.

Ecology: The AlphaGrip HC does not incorporate its own environmentally innovative design. But, almost any handheld computing device can be enabled with AlphaGrip technology, so the AlphaGrip HC could incorporate as its core computing component, one that is rated highly environment-friendly. Thus, with regard to energy efficiency, waste reduction and repair/reuse/recyclability, the AlphaGrip HC will be as innovative as the computing device with which it is coupled.

Manufacturability: Our company is profitably selling the AlphaGrip AG-5 over the internet for $99 (plus $10 for shipping and handling), thereby proving that a device with an AlphaGrip form factor can be manufactured at a cost which allows mass market pricing. With regard to thermal cooling and noise reduction, the AlphaGrip HC is dependent upon the off-the-shelf computing device it uses as its core, as mentioned above. At bottom, the AlphaGrip HC can be almost any handheld computer with a keyboard wrapped around it in the shape of a game controller.

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